Sunday, 4 October 2009

Harley Davidson 2010 Fat Bob CVO

My Baby!!!!!

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

X Factor is Back!

What an amazing day I had yesterday photographing the first X Factor auditions in front of a live audience. The buzz at London's ExCel centre was incredible, it felt like a concert as thousands of fans watched the first round auditions. Simon, Cheryl, Dannii and Louis watched hundreds of wannabes strut their stuff all hoping to be the the next X Factor winner. The auditions were divided into two shows which each drew crowds of 2,000 spectators! It was a fantastic way to start the new series and I for one, cannot wait to travel around the country to see the rest of the auditions. Who knows maybe I'll see you there too!

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Alltop - A place to view your favourite blogs

I've just added my blog to Alltop and it is great!

Alltop is an "online magazine rack" of popular topics. Stories are updated every hour. Pick a topic by searching, news category, or name, and it will be delivered to you 24x7. All topics, all the time. Check it out!

Recording with Robbie!

Well, what a great day I had yesterday. I was commissioned to photograph Robbie Williams at a recording studio in London. Robbie his crew and management were great, they made me very welcome and I found that we had a common interest in football, Crystal Palace, Port Vale and Liverpool supporters amongst us, which kept the conversation flowing into the night. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and thank everyone particularly Robbie and Trevor for allowing me to document the day without restriction. I am very pleased with the images and will be spending today in post-production to create the documentary feel that I have in mind for the pictures. The images are embargoed at present, but I hope to post a couple of images here once they have been published in the press.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Estimating and Negotiating

Here is the third and final part of Melissa Rodwell's excellent Business Side Of Fashion Photography series. Although this is based around fashion photography, many aspects are applicable to all types of photography business.

So we went through Part One and Part Two in the last two weeks on the Business of Fashion Photography. Hopefully you have learned by now that fashion photography is like any other business: it takes a lot of work and is as competitive as any other lucrative and high profile gig out there. You have to have your arsenal of self promotional tools looking their best and ready to blast them out and let the world know you exist. Now we’re going to talk about what to do once you get your foot in that door of that magazine or ad agency you’ve been working so hard to get into.

You want to be prepared when you finally get that golden opportunity to sit across from that art buyer or fashion editor that you’ve been dying to meet. Here are some rules of the business to remember when meeting the art buyer/client:

  • If you don’t feel confident, don’t see them. If you aren’t feeling 100% the day of your meeting, it’s better to postpone it than go in with a less than confident attitude. It’s seems to not only be a rule of the business but an overall Universal Law: People can smelldesperation a mile away. Don’t give off that aura or they’ll never hire you or you will be undervalued.
  • Silence is Golden. Another Universal Law perhaps, but a definite one in our business. Don’t sit there in your meeting, and out of sheer nervousness, start blabbing away about your personal life or the history behind every damn photograph in your book. If they have a question about a certain picture, trust me, they’ll ask about it. Otherwise, just let them go through your book and sit quietly.
  • Do NOT ask them: “What did you think of my book?” unless you are absolutely prepared for the truth.
  • Do your homework. Find out what accounts they are working on and what art directors or editors are responsible for what tasks at the company before your meeting. In other words, don’t ask them what accounts they’re working on. It shows you didn’t do your homework and thus, don’t really care if you work for them.
  • Do not ask them “Is there anything going on”. It’s a safe bet there is, which is why it took you so long to get an appointment.

Okay, so I’ve given you some helpful tips on tact and etiquette when you go to a meeting to show your portfolio. Now let’s say that you’re in that meeting and the art director or art buyer starts talking about an up-coming job and wants you to bid for it. Here’s what you do at this point:

  • Ask a lot of questions. Get as many specifics as possible. No question is stupid in this case
  • Put together a spec sheet: what is the usage, description of the shots needed, who is doing the casting, location scouting, etc. etc. etc.
  • Make absolutely sure you understand exactly what they are asking you to do.
  • It’s absolutely okay to give yourself time to think. You can say, “Let me get back to you.” Give yourself some space and crunch some numbers back in your office. Even get some feedback from other photographers or blogs, etc, so you are absolutely confident in the number you come up with.
  • NEVER give ballpark figures. If you come in low, they think you’re not qualified. If you come in high, they think you’ve never done this before and therefore not qualified either. Plus, you never want to lock yourself down to any number until you’ve gotten all the facts and taken some time to really think about the estimate you want to give them.
  • Do not give up something without getting something in return. Example: If they want you to come down on your day rate, then they get shorter usage on the images.
  • Be willing to walk away from a crappy deal. I do it all the time now, and boy does it feel GREAT. It only makes way for bigger and better gigs.
  • Do not be afraid of the money. Get what you need. Make sure you have estimated correctly and all needs anticipated are provided for.
  • Pre-production is the most important part of the job. Casting, permits, putting the crew together, figuring out the catering. All of this takes time. Time is money. Did you include that in your bid?

This is one reason a good agent is really nice to have. They have all the current information on what media usage fees are going for, etc. Like, how much DOES an album cover pay now? What are the media usage rates going for? What about usage….is that shoot you’re doing for the album cover going to be considered for billboards and Point of Purchase sales? I have to be honest and admit I’ve always been weak in this area. Always being one to just be happy to be shooting, I”ve probably often times underbid myself. Which is why I am definitely someone who needs an agent. Other photographers are really good at this end of the business. I am not. I admit it. I’m pretty good at self promotion and nailing down the meeting with the art buyer. But I totally flub the estimating part which is why I have an agent do it for me. I’ve learned the hard way on this one, blowing jobs and totally underestimating the bid, thus myself. So now, even if I don’t have an agent when I’m asked for an estimate, I “borrow” one. I call someone up and ask if they’ll help bid on this one off job. I’ve gotten to the place I can actually do that now. I know when you’re new or just starting out it might be a bit harder. But hey, everyone likes the possibility of earning money. If the job is a big one, get someone to help you with the bid if you’re not really confident in this area.

My only last bit of advice is this: the business side is difficult and not the most fun part of what we do. My advice is to always keep shooting! Retain the enthusiasm you had when you first started. Your work not only evolves, but the buyers around you can smell that enthusiasm just as easily as they can smell desperation and believe me, which personality would you rather be around? I thought so!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Price Matters A LOT (But Not To Your Customers)

money with wallet

Sure, the cost of your services is important. In fact, it’s critical. But it’s critical to you, not your clients.

Your rates are important because they need to cover your own costs, plus provide additional profit to feed you and do all the other things you need money for. Things like growing the business, advertising, equipment, training, staff, etc. Far too many small businesses fail because the owner, in setting fees, underestimates not only the cost of goods and services to be delivered, but ignores tacking on extra profit to fund the important aspects of business maintenance and growth.

But the biggest problem many new business owners have, is that they don’t understand how to sell their services based on any criteria besides price. Many photographers and designers striking out on their own (full time or freelancing part time) enter the marketplace and try to get work by undercutting or matching the low price end of the local market. You can certainly do that, but a low cost business model means that you’ll need lots more clients buying lots more goods and services, to match the net profits of someone with fewer clients and fewer jobs but with higher rates. So if you’ve decided you want to be in the low price, high volume end of the business, then this article is not for you. Thanks for stopping by, tune in again next time. If, on the other hand, you would prefer to have a few high-paying clients, then you’ll want to know how to compete in the marketplace and not use a low price as your selling proposition.

What’s Your USP (Unique Selling Proposition?)
Start by being different or unique. If you provide something that no one else does, then there is simply no competition. There are lots of ways you can be different, beginning with your finished products as shown in your portfolio. You can offer add-on services that your competition doesn’t offer. You can stay current on the latest design techniques, or hot “looks” and trends, and then show them off to your clients and prospective clients. Done properly, this kind of thing lets your clients know that you’re always on the cutting edge and if they see something they like, they can be confident that you can recreate something similar for them.

Keep in mind though, there’s a common thread among those who charge a premium price… it requiresthat you also deliver premium service. You can’t just have unique designs or photographic treatments, and be a slacker when it comes to getting back with your clients or meeting their deadlines. Do your best to meet or beat promised deadlines, and then, if you really want to blow them away, put in a little extra effort and deliver some extra treatment of their project. Maybe it’s a bonus design. Maybe it’s the photos they requested but you throw in a few samples of what their shots would look like with a bleach-bypass treatment or a high-pass filter.

Another thing to remember about being unique is to make sure you don’t name your special effects, designs, or image treatments using terminology used by others in the industry. Use a descriptive term that makes sense to amateurs but that is not something everyone else in the industry uses. Let’s say you’re a photographer and you offer high dynamic range (HDR) imagery. You might be surprised how few “pros” are doing this, so that alone might be enough to set you apart from other local shooters. But, even though it’s the industry-standard term and your customer probably doesn’t know what it is, if you call it “HDR,” then they can (and often will) contact other photographers and ask, ‘can you do HDR photography?’ And lots of photographers receiving a question like that, would answer ‘yes,’ do some quick research, and take away your customer. Instead, if you refer to your HDR photography as wide gamut exposure blending, or the graynar technique (or any name you make up) then it will remain unique.

One of the most important things about commanding a good fee for your work, is to never be afraid to say no, and another is to never reduce your price without taking something away. In your early meetings with your client, find out what they want. Listen hard to what seems to matter most to them. If you’re a good listener, you’ll walk away with a bullet list of job requirements and you’ll come back with your proposal and price. If they try to talk you down from that price point, you can say, ‘Sure. I can do it for your price, but I won’t be able to provide you with as many designs as I normally would.’ Or, ‘that rate would work if we cut the photo session down from 2 hours to 45 minutes and we delivered fewer proofs.’ And keep in mind, if they won’t come up with your fee and refuse to reduce their requirements, you must walk away! No matter what they promise you’ll benefit by being their vendor (extra customers, exposure, etc.) it doesn’t matter. Set your price and stick to your guns. The clients you lose are those you don’t want in the first place.

Another nice post by Larry Becker, here’s a YouTube video that kind of puts things in perspective… how many clients do you recognise!

The Vendor Client relationship - in real world situations

How many clients do you recognise?

Monday, 15 June 2009

Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band

Last night I photographed Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band as her official photographer at the Royal Festival Hall in London. I have worked with Yoko for a number of years now, and it is always a pleasure to photograph her, last night was no exception as she triumphed on the London Stage. This was her first performance in Britain since 2005 and she was greeted by a rousing reception from the packed audience. Backed by a tightly rehearsed, often brilliant Plastic Ono Band featuring her son Sean on guitar, piano and drums, members of the Japanese band Cornelius, plus cameos from Mark Ronson, Antony Hegarty and jazz colossus Ornette Coleman. To close, Yoko spent the dreamy and dancey The Sun Is Down flashing "I love you" in Morse code via a hand-held torch. The awed reception she received suggested the feeling is mutual.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Susan Boyle - Back On Song

I was in Birmingham at the NIA last night photographing the first night of the Britain's Got Talent Live Tour.

All of the acts gave fantastic performances but it was Susan Boyle who made a show-stopping comeback last night after many feared the tour would be too much for her. She returned from her health problems with a stunning makeover to give a brilliant performance which delighted fans. One fan said "She looks like she's been to Hollywood rather than The Priory. She's fantastic"

Thanks to the team!

A big thanks to Steve who comes with me and wires my images from most gigs and shows that I cover, without whom today's publications in The Mirror and Sun newspapers would have been possible, and Chris my agent at Rex Features who makes my images available to everyone via the Rex site and deals with all things picture related for me!

Nice one guys... I couldn't do it without you!!

Friday, 12 June 2009

Finding Marketing Partners

If you're a regular visitor to my blog, you'll realise that not only do I love to take photographs, I also love to gleam nuggets of information that will help me to evolve as a better photographer and businessman. Larry Becker from NAPP has come up with a great post today which deals with finding marketing partners. I thoroughly enjoyed his post and will be utilising some of his ideas in my business strategy. The full post is below.

Finding Marketing Partners


I’m gonna tackle a real world, street-smart marketing idea. Finding marketing partners.

Keep in mind, I’m not talking about “investing” in the right advertising vehicle. I just mean, start thinking about how you can advertise or market, using strategic partners. Start by thinking about what kind of business already reaches one or more of your target markets, and then see if you can get them to tell their customers about you. There are dozens and dozens of business models in freelance design and photography that come to mind, but there’s no way I could cover them all. So you need to be open-minded. Use these suggestions as a tool to get you started thinking about your own situation, and feel free to share your own examples in the comments.

I know this article is supposed to be about designers and photographers, but let me tell you about a florist. In the early days of the commercialization of the web, local florists were some of the hardest-hit. It was difficult to have an amazing web site that could compete with all the other florists out there (especially the big, national companies), but every business needs a web presence. One particular flower shop owner wanted to not only have a web site, he wanted to use his site to get business, but he couldn’t afford to advertise his web site on national TV or pay web programmers to make his site bigger and better than the national flower vendors. He started to think about customers who typically came into his store to buy flowers. His assessment was that it was mostly college educated people, generally more men that women, and people with a better than average income. Right or wrong he thought attorneys, as a group, seemed like his target market. So when some of his attorney customers came by his shop, he asked if there were any web sites attorneys visited regularly. Eventually he settled on a site that was for the legal profession only, and it even required a membership fee to join. He approached the owners of that site and proposed tasteful banner ads (they had no advertising posted yet) which were very conservative looking in a manner consistent with the site, and he proposed a small fee he could pay to have his ads posted. The site owners were open to the idea as a test of a possible new revenue stream, and he was the only advertiser so he liked having a ‘captive’ audience. The agreement was a huge success and the florist did more business than he had ever done before!

So who is already reaching your target market? You need to look for marketing partners with whom you can trade prospects or customers, or someone who would benefit from telling their customers about your services.

I know someone who is a child portrait photographer. She approaches department stores (the ones without their own photo studio) that have a children’s department, or which are stand alone children’s clothing stores, and arranges to have posters placed around the store for two weeks, which advertise an upcoming photography session at the store. She has a sign up sheet at the register for people to make appointments, and she takes appointments over the phone or on the web (phone numbers and the web address are on the posters). As well, she has small pamphlet at the cash register that tells all about the photo shoot, the company, web site, etc. and a blank to write down your appointment. It’s great for her, but how does this help the store? Even if there’s no financial trade, it means that everyone who signs up is guaranteed to return to the store in a couple weeks to have photos taken (and maybe shop a little more too). It gives the store an ‘event’ they can advertise and the posters attract attention because they’re different. On the day of the event, there’s a line, and everyone knows, nothing draws a crowd like a crowd! - When it comes to improving on this basic model, the possibilities are endless. The photographer could let the store give away coupons for a free 8×10 to anyone who spends $50 or more in the store. The photographer could give a cash reward to the department store clerk who signs up the most appointments. And don’t forget, the photographer doesn’t mail the finished prints unless the customer pays extra. Instead, customers can come back to the store again to pick up their prints at no additional charge (and the store loves that).

What if you just want to get your images in front of people. Where can you go? Well the first, most obvious place is a frame shop or a gallery. But everybody thinks of those places. I’m not suggesting that you don’t bother trying to get your work featured there, but don’t give up if they say no. Move on to all kinds of businesses that have high traffic. Is there a restaurant where you could post your work with a small brass plaque? Don’t bother with the big national chains because they have strict rules about what can be on their walls, but try local, popular restaurants. Besides the plaque, be sure every server in the restaurant has access to your brochures, so if a customer comments about a beautiful photo hanging on the wall, the server can say, “Oh, yes. And they’re not only from a local artist, but you can buy them. I’ll get you a brochure with all the information and a discount code so you can get any one of these images (or others posted at the web site) and save 20%. That way you can track where the referrals come from (by the discount code) and you can reward the server (your ad-hoc sales person) for the referral.

Do you create beautiful art prints? Do you have a style a designer might appreciate? Try working with local designers. Once they’re familiar with your work, they might suggest it for placement in a home they’re working on. Do what you can to make it easy for them. If you can afford it, loan them a dozen canvases of your work (the images they told you they liked best) so they can have some canvas wraps on hand to use in putting together a particular room.

What about furniture stores? Consider offering to loan your work to be hung in local furniture showrooms. Again, work with them to meet their needs. Do they have a group they want to show off in a particular way? Offer to create a custom image (possibly featuring a locally popular landmark) in exactly the color scheme/size they need. But step up the service you can provide. People come into furniture stores looking at couches and chairs, and the salesperson usually whips out a swatch book to show them all the colors and fabrics they could choose.

Here’s a neat idea. I have never heard of anyone doing it, but imagine if you were the featured photographer/artist for every single image on the walls of the local furniture showroom. Then (assuming you’re good at Photoshop) you could offer to recreate any image to match any furniture color the customer selects. The customer could receive a scaled down, ’soft proof’ sent by computer so they could see the color change and buy artwork that matches their furniture perfectly!

So maybe you think some of these suggestions are over the top. Maybe you think these things would never work. I promise you this, if you don’t try it (or try something creative) then nothing will change. Get out there and try something. Think about who else serves your target market but doesn’t compete directly with you, and then come up with a way to make it worthwhile for them to help you market to their audience. Are you willing to try something new?

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Casting Call!!

My good friend and colleague Neil Genower and I are in the latter stages of launching our new business venture – Genower & McKay Photography. This is our social photography business dedicated to Weddings and Lifestyle Photography. The commercial side of our business will be launched later this year.

We currently require a broad spectrum of images for our website, blog and general promotional material. For a limited time we are offering free shoots to families, couples, teenagers, babies, expectant mums etc, and for a short period of time we are heavily discounting our wedding packages! We promise you great photography, a fab time and we’ll even throw in a few free prints for helping us out! If you, or anyone you know maybe interested, please contact us at

We are also looking for reliable make-up artists and stylists for this venture.

Promoting Your Photography Business

Another great post from fashion photographer Melissa Rodwell.  I posted part one of this three part series dedicated to the business of photography last week.   This is part two and concentrates on your portfolio and marketing.  Melissa has written some sound advice here which holds true, no matter what photography business you run.  If you are serious about your business then this is a must read!!  

The photograph below is by Vincent Peters, click the link here to see his stunning and inspirational portfolio.

Part Two in the Three Part Series on
The Business of Fashion Photography

Vincent PetersImage by Vincent Peters

Last week we talked about the reality of the business and how to prepare yourself for the serious world that it truly is. I spoke of establishing your identity and your style. I wrote about how agents and clients take work in their best interest and so should you. And how believing in the value and worth of your work is tantamount to your success in the business. Today I’m going to address your portfolios and marketing yourself. In today’s age, the internet is a heavily relied on source for marketing. What does that mean? You not only have to have a physical presence with your work, you must have a web presence as well. Which means, you need a website. If you are sending your potential clients to a site that holds your body of work, like Flickr, you will not be taken seriously. Not to bash Flickr entirely, it’s a good platform to start on, but you don’t want to market yourself from there. Flickr is not recognized by agencies and clients as a reliable source for talented and dependable photographers. It’s deemed “amateur” and thus you will be perceived as one, even if your work is outstanding. The sad part about that, is what I said in the previous post: The Level you go into an agency is the level you will stay at. And what did I say about perception? Right. So listen, you don’t have to take my word as the absolute truth…I’ve just been in the business for a long time and these tips are tried and true.

You need a portfolio.  Here are some tips with your portfolio:

  • Your portfolio should be an extension of your personality. Again, identity and branding are so important here.
  • If you have 10 great shots and 10 mediocre shots, only show the 10 great ones. Believe me, they only remember you by your mediocre shots. In other words, less is more here.
  • Show a cohesive body of work. It should have a style. Your style. Find and then show it off.
  • Make sure it flows. Sequencing and color flow is so important.

Before you start with a book, you need a logo. You need to brand yourself. And this is where you can’t afford to cut corners and avoid costs. Hire a graphic designer to design your logo and business card. Use the logo on all promos and web presence, even email presence. It establishes who you are. The agencies may not remember your images, sorry to say, but when they see your logo over and over, they will start to become familiar your identity. Did you know that it takes 7 exposures before someone remembers you?? So consistency is very important. In a week or two, I am going to post some really great information on companies now that offer flash websites to photographers so you can get yourself a beautiful site and you can manage all the content yourself! That’s right…no more hiring overpriced and arrogant web designers who not only charge you through the roof for a site, but then are difficult to communicate with in the entire process. I swear to God at this exact moment I am willing to bet that 150 photographers across our planet are complaining right now about their web designer. They don’t take your calls or answer your emails when you’ve been asking them for three weeks to update your site, then they want to charge you for doing the work. It’s endless and they’re a pain. So get a website from one of the few places like or They’re competitive in price and it’s so easy to maintain and update your own site. And it’s in your own domain as well. More on that later, but same rules do apply with that site. Logo needs to be present, your 10 best images as opposed to 20 half great half okay, and consistency and flow is equally as important on your “digital portfolio”.

Here’s some tips on marketing:

  • Email marketing works on name recognition but not with strangers. Can you imagine how many emails art directors and editors get a day? They don’t have time to go through all of them. Yours probably won’t get opened if they don’t recognize your name.
  • Promo pieces are still the way to go. It should contain 3 to 5 images and shouldn’t be over the size of 5 X 7. Your images should show your style and be consistent with each other. Your logo should be on it as well.
  • Know your audience. Don’t blanket your promo cards everywhere. If you want to shoot fashion, find the art buyers who work on fashion campaigns and the editors that work in the fashion editorial world. If your style is high fashion, don’t send your promo card to Family Circle Magazine. You’re wasting their time and yours.
  • Come up with a game plan: target your audience and then be consistent with your promo piece. Remember the 7 times exposure rule: you need to update them with a new recognizable promo piece often and consistently.

And a few words about source books:

  • They’re not as relevant as they used to be.
  • Do your research on what source books work for your market. For instance, Workbook works well in Chicago but not other regions.
  • Never buy a single page. You don’t want to be placed next to a photographer whose work brings your work down.
  • Again, hire and use a good designer to do your layout.
  • Always convey a clear image of what it is you do! High fashion, beauty, lifestyle? What is YOUR style.
  • I went with At-Edge because of it’s exclusivity. I want to be in the source book that carries a  lot of clout. I also liked the fact that they invite the photographer, so not every one qualifies. It keeps me in a good class of photographers. Other source books works well for different needs and what level you are in the business. Obviously, At-Edge is for a photographer who is very established. There are other source books that aren’t as expensive and not as exclusive.

Source books are pricey. Look, it’s ALL pricey. Updating your website, printing for your portfolio, printing new promo cards every two months, advertising yourself in a source book…….it ADDS up! I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information. This doesn’t have to be done overnight so don’t get frustrated! These are tips you can come back to when you’re ready to take on the next hurdle in marketing and promoting yourself.

Next week we’ll fiinish the 3 part series on Negotiating and Estimating. Its where we will apply the idea of valuing your work and worth after you’ve successfully promoted yourself and caught the eye of a client!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Do You Have What it Takes to Make it to the Top?

Just found this article by fashion photographer Melissa Rodwell about the business side of photography.  It applies to all photographers and is worth remembering.   Check out more from Melissa here

If you want to make it in this business you not only have to be a great shooter and a highly inspired image maker, you also have to know the in’s and out’s on how to survive the business side of your career.

I’m going to give you some advice that not only took me years to learn, but I sometimes had to learn it the hard way. Even though I went to a great college, the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, and I had several business classes towards the end of my schooling, it still didn’t totally prepare me for the Big, Bad, and REAL World of running a successful photography business. This 3 part series is going to be broken down into the following categories: Positioning, Portfolios and Marketing, and finally Negotiating and Estimating for Jobs. I’m going to keep this intro short and dive right into it. No better time than NOW to get your business head together and not only SURVIVE the industry but THRIVE in it!


  • Get a Point of View and stick to it:
    • Find your voice, your vision, otherwise known as your style, and stick to it! Art Buyers/Editors/Designers want to see a unique Style; they look for consistency and cohesiveness in your portfolio. They want to know what they’re going to get when they book you for a job. If they’re looking for photographers to shoot their next story, it doesn’t matter to them that you can also shoot food and weddings, they want to know that you will shoot an amazing fashion story that showcases YOUR STYLE. Find your style and make it YOURS.
  • This is a Business, not a Pajama Party:
    • In other words: You can’t act like a Rock Star until you’ve made it. The most fun I have is the day of the shoot where my creativity is at its peak and I get to do what I love most; shoot fashion. All the days leading up to it however are not all fun and games. You are a business professional  and you have to take this business seriously otherwise you won’t be taken seriously. What does that translate to? Basically, you won’t work.
  • Agencies and Clients work in their own best interest. You need to do the same:
    • It’s a bittersweet reality but there are NO imaginary friendships in this business. Everybody is out for what suits them the best. You have to do the same.
  • Photography is a business built on perception:
    • If you start at the bottom it’s way too long a climb up to the top. Yes, you have to pay your dues but you also need to present yourself from the start, as a business person who is serious about their career.
  • Believe in the value of your work:
    • Do you know what this means? It means you DESERVE to be PAID for what you do. Your work has VALUE to it. Be proud of it and believe in it. Don’t let people take advantage of you because you’re an artist. And let’s face it: if you don’t believe in the value of your work, no one else will!
  • Get out of the Poverty Mentality:
    • This brings us back to the previous point; know your worth and don’t undervalue yourself. This is a fear driven business. Try to keep the fears to a minimum.
  • The level you go into an agency situation is the level you will stay at:
    • If you do a job for less money than you deserve, thinking you will be rewarded next time with a bigger job, guess again. When there’s a bigger job, the agency will hand it out to a bigger photographer. You stay at the level you started with them. Aim HIGH!

That’s it for the first part of this 3 part series on Succeding in the commercial photography world. Commercial photography is competitive. Fashion photography is FIERCELY competitive. If you’re not in it to win it, you won’t get far. That’s just the sad reality. When people ask me how I’ve lasted this long in the business I tell them this: I absolutely love fashion and photography and I can’t see myself doing anything else but this. I am passionate about it. But I can tell you the truth: I have witnessed others who maybe had a lot of talent or were technically savvy but if they weren’t IN LOVE with fashion and photography, they didn’t end up far into their career and eventually quit and chose different paths. So get yourself motivated, learn the business side well and you’ll be that much closer to SUCCESS.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Marco Pierre-White Portraits Shot with SB800's

I was recently commissioned by ITV to shoot publicity images of  Marco Pierre-White for the series Hell's Kitchen.  As Marco was being inteviewed by the press on the day of our shoot, I was aware that his time with me would be limited and that I would need to work quickly to get my shots. I met Marco (a thoroughly great bloke) between interviews at his restaurant in Chelsea and chatted to him about my ideas for the shoot. Once we had agreed on the theme for the pictures, I set up my lights (two Nikon SB800's, one with a Honl SpeedGrid and the other with a Westcott 43" optical white satin collapsible umbrella all triggered by Pocket Wizards) in an area of the restaurant that was not being used. Marco arrived, sat down and I had him for 3 minutes before he was whisked away for another interview!  Here are the results of that enjoyable 3 minute shoot.

Remote Cameras Help To Capture Britain's Got Talent Auditions 2009

I had the great pleasure of photographing Britain's Got Talent this year, one of the jewels in ITV's crown.  Shows of this nature are multi-camera events and can have upwards of 15 cameramen recording everything that happens, so how do I, as the lone stills photographer go about covering a show of such magnitude.  A little forward planning Pocket Wizards, Sound Blimps and a few other tricks help me to be in more than one place at a time!  

Thanks to Sara Lee, Talkback Thames and my colleague Neil Genower for helping me make this short video.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Multimedia Journalists Discover Life After Newspapers

Photo District News features Multimedia Journalists Discover Life After Newspapers, an online story about former newspaper photographers with multimedia skills finding a way to make a living.  The article shows the way forward for many of us in this business. Full article here.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

What is a Sound Blimp?

One piece of specialist equipment sets apart a stills photographer working in the film and television industry from most photographers.... The Sound Blimp.

If I had a penny for every time I have been asked about that strange box that my camera is housed in... I would be a very rich man!  

The Jacobson Sound Blimp is a housing for professional 35mm Canon and Nikon cameras which effectively eliminates the noise created by their operation. Silencing is essential in areas where extraneous noise cannot be tolerated or would prove distracting; i.e., motion picture and television sound stages, theatrical plays, surveillance, wildlife, and sporting events such as golf. Furthermore, the Sound Blimp provides protection for cameras where environmental conditions can affect delicate camera mechanisms. It helps protect cameras and lenses from the adverse effects of sand, dust, and sudden changes in temperature and humidity.  

If you regularly work in the film and television industry... you will need a sound blimp!  Other types of blimps have been tried in the past but nothing comes close to, or  is as effective as the Sound Blimp by Jacobson Photographic Instruments.  I have been using them for over 20 years and can safely say that they are the industry standard.

They are very simple to use:

Start with a Nikon or Canon camera and a Sound Blimp.

Release the two snap latches on top of Sound Blimp.

Connect the internal electrical cable to the receptacle on the camera for remote operation.

Slide the camera into the case until it sits firmly (If necessary, adjust camera so the viewfinder and lens are centered when Sound Blimp is closed).
Close the cover and snap the latches shut.

Install the lens tube completely over the lens. Rotate the lens tube clamps over the ring on the tube.  To take pictures, press the top switch on the case.  The bottom switch controls the AF and viewfinder information.




Does the Sound Blimp protect the camera from water and dust?





Is the Sound Blimp made of plastic?


No. The case is made of a strong aluminum alloy.



When the camera operates in the Sound Blimp, can any sound be heard?


Yes, but very little. Usually only the photographer is aware that a picture has been taken.



What does it weigh?


Approximately 3 pounds (1.4 kg) including the lens tube.



Can the Sound Blimp be mounted on a tripod?


Yes. There is a tripod mounting plate on the bottom.



Can I use my auto-focus lenses in auto-focus operation mode in the Sound Blimp?





Can I use my zoom lenses?


Maybe.  Usually lens tubes for most Canon EF f2.8 type lenses and most Nikon AF f2.8 type lenses are available.



Do I need a different lens tube for each lens I wish to use?


That depends on your lenses. The physical dimensions of the lenses are the determining factors. Often JPI are able to provide a lens tube that can accommodate several different focal lengths. Let Mark know the exact lenses you have, then he can tell you all the possibilities.

Sound blimps are available from :

Jacobson Photographic Instruments, Inc.
11491 Chandler Blvd.

North Hollywood, CA 91601

Phone (818) 752-7910